on August 4, 2003
I think the thing that bothers me most about this novel is the novelist. Had Anderson actually read any of the Verne's work, he might have understood how patently ridiculous the idea of a novel based on the "real" Captain Nemo is.
Why? Well, "Nemo" is a pseudonym, for one. It comes from The Odyssey. When Odysseus blinds the Cyclops, the creature roars out a demand for the name of the man who has done this to him. The answer is "Nemo", or "No man", which is how Odysseus tricks the Cyclops into lying to his brethren. "Who did this to you?" they ask. "Nobody. Nobody did this to me."
So, Verne has his unnamed Captain adopt the name "Nemo" to show that he has separated from the world of men, and their greed and abuse. The idea that it is a true surname is absurd.
At the end of "The Mysterious Island", Verne reveals that Nemo is an expatriate Indian, which makes it even more unlikely that he would be around to befriend the boyhood version of Verne.
Of course, Verne could have made that bit up.
Tie it all to dull writing and a drab storyline and what you get is a dreary, dreary book that will make your blood boil with annoyance.
on July 12, 2003
I'm a sci-fi and fantasy fan(atic) of over 50 years, devouring 2 to 3 genre books a week plus magazines like F&SF, but curiously, I hadn't run across Kevin Anderson before picking up CAPTAIN NEMO in a bookstore. Just lucky, I guess.
The reviews sprinkled on the back cover were selected to impress suckers (like me), and although the novel's premise sounded like fun, believe me, it wasn't. If you are looking for a dull, plodding story with nonsensical science, ungrammatical English, zero-dimensional characters, switching (and confusing) viewpoints, embarrassing name-dropping from Jules Verne's stories, contextually meaningless action scenes, and every other amateur mistake a writer could make, then read CAPTAIN NEMO. As a kid, I read pulp magazine space-opera better written than this!
Anderson should either go to writers' school or retire. There are so many truly outstanding sci-fi/fantasy writers to choose from -- contemporaries like Charles Sheffield, Terry Pratchett, Orson Scott Card, Gene Wolfe, Octavia Butler, Greg Bear, and Ursula LeGuin; older ones like Alfred Bester, Bob Heinlein, Fredric Brown, Sprague DeCamp, Jack Vance, Samuel Delaney, J.R.R. Tolkien, etc., etc., including of course Jules Verne. Why should anyone bother with drivel like CAPTAIN NEMO? You're much better off spending your money to see the cartoon movie about a little fish named Nemo.
on March 1, 2003
Captain Nemo is a novel in the tradition of Farmer's The Other Log of Phileas Fogg and other tributes to science fiction pioneers. Andre Nemo is the son of a carpenter in the shipyards of Nantes. His friend Jules Verne is the son of a local lawyer. Together they dream of exploration and experiment with diving suits.
When Andre's father is killed in a ship fire, he becomes a cabin boy on the Coralie and sails on an exploratory mission. Jules tries to join Andre but is intercepted by his father and taken back to Nantes. After a long voyage, the Coralie is attacked by pirates and Andre is stranded on a mysterious island. He escapes underground, finds dinosaurs, and travels through the center of the earth. Later, he travels across Africa in a huge balloon and is involved in the building of a great undersea vessel by Robur, a Turkish general.
Meanwhile, Jules completes his training as a lawyer and dabbles in writing plays, with little success. As he receives news of Andre's exploits, Jules incorporates them into fictious adventures which become wildly successful. Eventually, Jules is reunited briefly with Andre aboard the Nautilus and gets an underwater tour.
Caroline Aronnax, the daughter of a wealthy merchant, is the friend and sweetheart of both boys, but is more attracted to Andre. After Andre goes to sea, Caroline is married to Captain Hatteras, who sails away to the Arctic Sea, never to return. In his absence, Caroline manages the Hatteras household and finances and, when her father dies, the family business as well. Although still loving Andre, she is determined to be true to her husband until he has been legally presumed dead. Andre can't stand the wait and goes off to the Crimean War.
Although bowing to the imagination of Jules Verne as an author, this novel suggests his many flaws and shortcomings as a man. Would Verne have written his great adventures if he had been more contented with his life? Maybe the greatest dreamers are never fully content.
Anderson has written a scientific romance of the old style, but with a thoroughly modern heroine. It is fun, but not the best that Anderson can produce.
Recommended to Anderson fans and anyone who enjoys a good retake of a classical SF story.
on January 28, 2003
OK, you've read the previous rants and raves. I wasn't insulted by the implication that Verne was a wanna-be adventurer with few original ideas-- the book isn't supposed to be Verne's biography. The idea that Nemo was real and that his life story inspired some of Verne's most famous novels is neat, and the way they're threaded together is nifty. But the first half of the book is slow and awkward, peppered with awkward writing (Verne is nearly always referred to as 'Jules Verne', guess his friends didn't want to get too informal), bad science (Nemo dives to a sinking ship using unpressurized air-- he's not going to go far!), implausible bits (a hang glider built from DaVinci's notebooks while marooned!), and laughable moments (a timely volcanic eruption releases an even more timely dinosaur). The second half of the book seems better written, almost as though the book was started very early in the author's career and finished much later. I finished the book, but it was maddening at times-- a bit like reading Philip Jose Farmer.
on August 31, 2002
Taken as a whole, the book Captain Nemo sounds interesting.
The premise of a real person being the inspiration for Jules Verne sounded promising unfotunatly, it is a bit of a letdown.
Verne is portrayed as a milqtoast, afraid of his own shadow and his overbearing father, without an original thought in his entire life.
The titles of the chapters are taken from Verne books such as 20,000 Leagues,Five Weeks in a balloon, Mysterious Island, even though they may or may not be the same story line that ran through his books.
For me though is the love the two men shared. Verne, afraid to tell her that he loves her, loses her. Nemo himself is unable to be with her because she has an arranged marriage. So with one year left before she can declare her missing husband dead, he goes off. Not to America or someother place where he can be safe and away from her for the year so he isn't tempted to scandalize her, but into the middle of the Crimean War where he is held captive by a caliph, forced to marry her daughter and build the submarine Nautilus.
Excuse me but if I had to be away from the one I loved for a year, I would have gone away to safety, not into the middle of the war and I would have done everything I could have to escape, not stay a captive for 5 years.
The most exciting part of the book is where Nemo is lost at sea and faces pirates and dinosaurs and other monsters in a lost world reminiscent of Pellucidar. Once he returns to civilization, the book starts to run out of steam. Verne is protrayed more and more infrequently almost as an afterthought and a pitiful figure when he makes a "guest" appearance.
The book is great for about 150 pages. The next 150 are tedious. Read a real Jules Verne book and learn from the master.
on May 14, 2002
"Captain Nemo...we're overloadin' the dilitheum crystals!"
"I need more power now, Mr. Harding."
"I can't give it to ya, sir!"
Fun. That's the best word to describe this novel. It's just flat-out fun. I'm hoping that some younger readers will pick up this book then, when they've finished it, will seek out the many book references to Jules Verne that accompany this story. I know that'd put a lot of smiles on English teachers faces.
So what's the big deal with yet ANOTHER story about Captain Nemo? Well, Mr. Anderson has taken that tale and put a bit of a twist into it; he's made Andre' Nemo a real-life friend of Jules Verne in which Verne uses in his literary works. And it's a fast enjoyable read.
Maybe too fast.
Years fly by with abandon and it is sometimes difficult to fathom the time scale that the author bounds through.
There're also a few basic problems that I encountered:
In the beginning, when Nemo is getting ready to become cabin boy to the Captain onboard a merchant vessel, he is accepted thanks to the family ties of the lovely Caroline (an adolescent love interest of both Nemo and Verne). Verne longs to go and decides to steal away with Nemo on the vessel. But there are no arrangements made with the Captain for Verne's acceptance onto the ship. He just shows up on the boat and is miraculously admitted into the Captain's favor as a 'second' cabin boy. Too convenient there. A Captain would always know who was sailing with him long before they left port and this was never addressed. A weak point in the story.
Also, I've got problems with the rehashing of old material in books. I've heard from multiple sources that Jean Auel's new book, 'Shelters of Stone,' does this terribly, and it seems to be a continuing trend. Is it the authors, I wonder? Or the editors requiring this? But telling us again and again and again about the Crimean War and how it affected Nemo got a bit tiresome. As did recapping all of Nemo's experiences in the last 30 pages of the book. I know this already. Don't preach it to me.
But all in all this was a breezy read. I whipped through the book in a few days and got caught up a few times in the story, remembering how much I'd loved Verne's '20,000 Leagues Under The Sea,' and all its nuances.
As I said earlier, I'm hoping this book will make a few younger readers seek out original Verne books and get a taste of some old literary works. I wouldn't be surprised if that happens. Mr. Anderson can smile about that, I'm sure.
on March 14, 2002
This book is so authentic in tone and detail that I actually thought what I was reading was the truth. I actually thought that Mr. Anderson had based this story on some new historical research that not only showed that an adventurer named Andre Nemo existed, but that he grew up with Jules Verne. Without reservation I continued to believe that this was the case- right up to when the dinosaur came out of the cave....
Upon reflection, this just shows how convincing a yarn Anderson can weave. I had read most of Vern's books and I was familiar with the details of his real life. Anderson inserts his Nemo into the real Vern's life in such a way that it is completely believable. I'd still believe it, if he had used Komodo dragons instead of a T-rex.
This is the best old-fashioned adventure yarn that I've read in years. It not only reminds me of Vern's stories, but also of Conan Doyle and Edgar Rice Burroughs.
on October 16, 2003
I'm not going to mince words, this book is horrible...
It's a pastiche of Verne's life, intercut with the adventures of "Andre Nemo" who wanders around the world, involving himself with incident after incident drawn from the pages of Verne's novels, and minor character, after minor character named after Verne's characters
My biggest gripe however is the vision of Nemo presented, this is not the mysterious stranger of the 20,000 leagues under the sea, or the technocratic Indian Prince, driven from his home after a failed rebellion against colonial masters as presented in Mysterious Island. Having all the works of Verne to draw from, and KJ Anderson, instead chose to draw his Nemo from the wide screen, he has drawn his "Dark Genius" from the vision of Walt Disney, and Harper Goff
The result is what you expect, a poor adaptation of an adaptation, true neither to the original, or the film.
on December 27, 2001
Whether you read the novels of Jules Verne or watched the spate of Jules Verne inspired movies of the 1950's and 1960's (as I did) while growing up -- CAPTAIN NEMO is a must read! In this book Kevin J. Anderson weaves an intricate tapestry intertwining the real life story of Jules Verne with a fictional tale in which Andre Nemo (of MYSTERIOUS ISLAND and 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA fame) stars in all the "Extraordinary Voyages" that Verne later turned to literary gold. If I had a complaint about the book, it would only be that sometimes Jules Verne comes across as a pretty dull fellow next to his friend Nemo! Still, it is wonderful to once again have a book take those of us who must stay home on an extraordinary voyage across an Earth still rich with adventure!
CAPTAIN NEMO is highly recommended by this reader.
on August 30, 2002
Jules Verne, one of the founding fathers of Science Fiction, is revealed to be a bad writer who relies on a severely bastardized Captain Nemo to supply him with ideas. This is just beautiful! I find it fitting that this premise is conceived of by Kevin J. Anderson, a writer who has relied on other writer's ideas for his career (Star Wars, Dune, X-Files, etc.).
Please, if you have any respect for Jules Verne or classic literature in general, do NOT bother with this book. Nemo, as envisioned by Anderson, bears almost no resemblance to the character depicted in 20,000 LUTS and Mysterious Island. I checked it out of the library, so at least I didn't have to pay; however, that's 4 nights of reading time that I can never reclaim.